- firm, strict, or uncompromising: stern discipline.
- hard, harsh, or severe: a stern reprimand.
- rigorous or austere; of an unpleasantly serious character: stern times.
- grim or forbidding in aspect: a stern face.
Origin of stern1
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for sternness
Just then, up came my father, with a sternness in his looks that made me tremble.Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)
"Get out of this," he said, with the sternness of wrath suppressed.Weighed and Wanting
The sternness of age and the austerity of censoriousness are now silent.Imogen
His thin lips tightened; the sternness of his ace increased.The Snare
Dr. Branner was as kind to his boys as he was stern when sternness was needed.Herbert Hoover
- showing uncompromising or inflexible resolve; firm, strict, or authoritarian
- lacking leniency or clemency; harsh or severe
- relentless; unyieldingthe stern demands of parenthood
- having an austere or forbidding appearance or nature
- the rear or after part of a vessel, opposite the bow or stem
- the rear part of any object
- the tail of certain breeds of dog, such as the foxhound or beagle
- relating to or located at the stern
- Isaac. 1920–2001, US concert violinist, born in (what is now) Ukraine
Word Origin and History for sternness
Old English styrne "severe, strict," from Proto-Germanic *sternijaz (cf. Middle High German sterre, German starr "stiff," störrig "obstinate;" Gothic andstaurran "to be stiff;" Old Norse stara; Old English starian "to look or gaze upon"), from PIE root *ster-, *star- "be rigid" (see sterile).
c.1300, "hind part of a ship, steering gear of a ship," probably from Old Norse stjorn "a steering," related to styra "to guide" (see steer (v.)). Or the word may come from Old Frisian stiarne "rudder," which is also related to steer (v.).